GULF SHORES, AL - Montreat College sent two members of the men's track & field team to compete in the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships over the weekend in Alabama. Steven Anhold (SO/Churchville, VA) and Rylan Hincher (FR/North Wilkesboro, NC) made the trip to compete in the marathon after hitting a qualifying A standard in the half marathon earlier in the season.
Both athletes were making their debut at the 26.2 mile distance and were met by a talented field of 56 competitors and hot, muggy conditions that added to an already considerable challenge. Following a predetermined race plan to start in the back and work their way forward, the pair of teammates found themselves in the back of the pack at the 10-mile checkpoint. However, they soon began to make up ground and had moved up over 25 places by the 16-mile checkpoint. Anhold would surge ahead and make up more ground, battling fatigue over the final few miles to come through with a 23-rd place finish in a time of 2:58:51.50. Hincher began dealing with cramps around the 18-mile mark bur persevered over the grueling final miles to complete the course with a time of 3:14:40.00, good for 40th place.
"These guys got a rude welcome to the marathon today," said head coach Jason Lewkowicz. "The conditions were tough and got even worse when the sun came out around mile 19. With that said, I was so proud of how these two guys came out and competed. They followed the game-plan and stayed within themselves when the other guys got out early. And, true to form, they started reeling guys in around halfway through. The final miles were rough due to the conditions but the plan all along was to compete and cross the finish line, which they did. The experienced gained this year will do wonders for them as they get ready for next year. This was a great way to wrap up a wonderful season for Montreat College track & field."
GREENSBORO, NC - On the final day of the outdoor track & field regular season, the Montreat Cavaliers sent Erik Rodriguez (SR/Euless, Texas) to the North Carolina A&T Aggie Last Chance Invitational on Sunday to compete in the 800m. The senior, who will go down as one of the best to ever put on the Cavalier singlet, did not disappoint, wrapping up his stellar career with a personal best and new school-record time of 1:54.21. His effort placed him 13th overall in an excellent field of runners.
"I am very proud for how Erik came out and competed today," said head coach Jason Lewkowicz. "After missing much of the first month of the outdoor season with an injury, we weren't sure if we had enough time to get Erik back into top form but, with his determination and hard work, he set himself up to wrap up his time at Montreat with a new school record a day after receiving his degree. That sure makes for a great weekend! We will miss Erik's leadership, passion, and commitment and he has left a great legacy for our returning athletes to follow."
In a few weeks, Rodriguez will make the move to Illinois where he will begin graduate studies in bioethics at Trinity International University. He ends his time at Montreat as a NAIA National Qualifier, an AAC champion, and the holder of multiple school records and all-conference accolades.
With the regular season now complete, the Cavaliers will send Steven Anhold (SO/Churchville, VA) and Rylan Hincher (FR/North Wilkesboro, NC) to compete at the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships, which take place May 26-28 in Gulf Shores, AL. Both men will compete in the marathon after attaining the automatic qualifying standard for the event last month.
RALEIGH, NC - As the push into the postseason continues, Montreat College senior Erik Rodriguez (SR/Euless, Texas) is still heating up the track and making strides. On Friday, the senior competed at the NC State Last Chance Qualifier. In a field of some top talent that included two-time World Championships participant Robby Andrews, Rodriguez placed tenth in the 800m with a new personal best time of 1:55.28.
Rodriguez will get one more opportunity to lower his time when he competes at the North Carolina A&T Aggie Invitational on Sunday, May 15th.